Monday May 16, 2016 10:30
(Kitco News) - Not only is China trying to establish its dominance in gold by building up its own marketplace, but it is also looking to expand its influence in London’s long-established market.
Monday, the ICBC Standard Bank said it has agreed to buy Barclays’ London precious metals vaulting business. According to a press release, the China-based bank is expected to complete its purchase in July; it will be the only Chinese bank to have a vault in the United Kingdom.
Not only will ICBC be the only Chinese bank in the London market, but it will have a pretty big footprint as the vault can store 1,800 tonnes of precious metals. According to reports, it is one of the largest vaults in Europe.
“[T]his enables us to better execute on our strategy to become one of the largest Chinese banks in the precious metals market,” said Mark Buncombe, head of commodities at ICBC, in a press release. “We’ve continued to grow our capabilities over the past year with a number of strategic hires and developments, and the acquisition of a precious metals vault allows us to expand our services in clearing and processing, to serve the growing needs of our clients.”
The bank’s purchase of Barclays’ vault is only the latest move in the firm’s strategy to become a major factor in the gold market. Last month ICBC became a market maker for the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).
Barclays has been anxious to exit the gold market, which it deemed back in January as a non-core asset. The bank’s exit also came as the market faced higher scrutiny amid growing allegations of market manipulation.
Last month Deutsch Bank AG settled its precious metals manipulation lawsuit and said that it was willing to work with the plaintiffs in their other lawsuits against the other defendant banks.
ICBC’s expansion into the London market comes after China expanded its own market, launching its own yuan-based gold fix.
Although China has made significant progress growing its marketplace, analysts have noted that it could take years before it surpasses the long-established markets in London and New York.
LBMA clearing statistics for 2015 showed that on average more than $18 billion worth of gold is traded on a monthly basis.